Ferrari boss denies using team orders

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene on Friday denied that the Italian team used any team orders at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix where Sebastian Vettel triumphed after ‘jumping’ team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the pit-stops.As Finn Raikkonen topped the …

June 9, 2017

Ronaldo fires Portugal, France complicates path to Russia

France complicated their task of ensuring automatic qualification to next year’s World Cup in Russia after falling to a dramatic 2-1 defeat in Sweden on Saturday.

Sweden snatched victory with an Ola Toivonen goal from the half-way line in extra time after a poor clearance from France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

The freak goal sent the massed ranks of yellow clad fans in Stockholm into a wild frenzy, but more importantly with four games to go it sent Sweden top of Group A, level on 13 points with France.

Only the winners of each group are guaranteed a place at next year’s finals in Russia, with the eight best second-placed sides competing in the play-offs.

The French will now play a crucial tie on August 31 against the Netherlands, who remain in the running after thrashing Luxembourg 5-0, while Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal’s 3-0 triumph in Latvia.

France had pulled ahead through Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud after 37 minutes, but the Scandinavians levelled before the break thanks to Jimmy Durmaz (43).

And after more than three minutes of regular time Toivonen took advantage of a poor clearance from France captain Lloris with a soaring shot into the back of an empty net.

“It was a catastrophic scenario,” said coach Didier Deschamps, a World Cup winner in 1998 as a player with France.

“I’m not going to heap blame on Hugo, he has often been decisive for us, but it cost us.”

The coach added that “the draw was not the ideal result but would have been a good point, which would have allowed us to keep Sweden behind”.

For Deschamps’s side it was the first defeat in qualifying and they next face a tough test against the Netherlands in Paris.

Veterans Arjen Robben (21) and Wesley Sneijder (34) laid the groundwork for a Dutch victory in coach Dick Advocaat’s first game in charge.

In the second half Georginio Wijnaldum (62) and Quincy Promes (70) scored with Vincent Janssen, adding a penalty six minutes from time.

“We have the means to cause a surprise in Paris, the group has found a positive dynamic, we will go there to win against the Bleus,” said a defiant Robben.

Advocaat, who started his third stint as Oranje coach this week, was also confident.

“Of course we are capable of winning in France, the players will be ready, I have a good feeling,” he said.

– Ronaldo show –

In Group B, Switzerland remain top after beating the Faroe Islands 2-0, thanks to their stars Granit Shaka (36) and Xerdan Shaqiri (59), and are three points ahead of Portugal, the reigning European champions, who beat Latvia thanks to another Ronaldo goal scoring display.

In keeping with his great season finale, the Real Madrid star was decisive with two goals (41 and 63) and an assist for André Silva to score the third (67).

Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in his last eleven matches and after guiding Real Madrid to the Liga-Champions League double will try to extend his trophy collection with the Confederations Cup from June 17 to July 2.

The surprise result of the group was the defeat of Hungary against modest Andorra (1-0), leaving the Central European side virtually outside the World Cup.

Switzerland and Portugal will play the first place of the group, which qualifies directly for Russia-2018, and the second will have settle for a playoff.

In group H, Belgium took a big step towards qualifying by beating Estonia 2-0 with goals from Dries Mertens (31) and Nacer Chadli (86). Bosnia and Greece, the two teams pursuing Belgium, played out a goalless draw.

June 9, 2017

Afghanistan 212-6 against West Indies in ODI

Javed Ahmadi equalled his previous best but Afghanistan were restricted to 212 for six batting first against the West Indies in the first fixture of a three-match One-Day International series at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Friday.Ahmadi’s 8…

June 9, 2017

Sweden beats France with dramatic goal from half-way line

Hugo Lloris was left red faced Friday as a dramatic last gasp Ola Toivonen goal from the half-way line gave Sweden a 2-1 win over France in their World Cup qualifier.The France ‘keeper will watch replays in horror after he dribbled out of his box and m…

June 9, 2017

Football: Argentine town braces for Messi’s wedding

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s Argentine hometown is preparing to host footballing and showbiz celebrities when he marries childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo this month in Latin America’s wedding of the decade.Colombian popstar Shakira, wife of M…

June 9, 2017

The good, the bad and the ugly of Paris Olympics bid

Paris, along with Los Angeles, is now within arm’s reach of winning its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. But putting the French capital in the sporting spotlight could come at a heavy cost. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the pros and cons.

June 9, 2017

Formula One will not be ‘dumbed down’ – Brawn

Formula One will not be ‘dumbed down’ to create artificial excitement or lose its identity, the sport’s new Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn said on Friday.But, he added, it will seek to find ways of making the racing more competitive overall so that…

June 9, 2017

Trump accuses ex-FBI chief Comey of lying

President Donald Trump on Friday accused James Comey of lying to Congress about the contents of their private meetings in the weeks before he sacked the FBI chief — and said he’d be willing to testify under oath about it.Trump was addressing reporters…

June 9, 2017

Marquez fastest despite penalty on new Catalan MotoGP track

World champion Marc Marquez of Honda hit overdrive Friday, dominating free practice at the redesigned Montmelo track at the Catalunya MotoGP, despite being penalised for failing to slow down approaching an accident.Marquez, 24, saw his best time from t…

June 9, 2017

Raikkonen on top ahead of Hamilton

Kimi Raikkonen topped the times ahead of Lewis Hamilton as Ferrari edged in front in a close scrap with champions Mercedes in Friday afternoon’s second free practice for the Canadian Grand Prix.The Finn, who finished a disappointed and controversial se…

June 9, 2017

UN agency blasts Hamas after tunnel found under schools

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Friday said it has protested to the Islamist movement Hamas after finding a tunnel under two of its schools in the Gaza Strip.Over the years, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have built a labyrinth of tunnels, including one…

June 9, 2017

Polanski rape victim pleads with judge to close 1977 case

An American woman raped by filmmaker Roman Polanski as a teenager four decades ago pleaded with a California judge on Friday to end the case so she could move on with her life.”I would implore you to do this for me, out of mercy for myself,” Samantha G…

June 9, 2017